Lice, help!! Do I need to cut my dreads now?

First of all: don’t panic! You can get lice out of your dreadlocks without cutting your beloved dreadlocks.

I myself have been to places where pretty bad parasites live, e.g. there is a fly in the rainforest, which lays its eggs on sweaty clothes. A little grub hatches, pierces into the flesh, and lives there until it begins to pupate. But I caught my very first parasite in the oh so clean Switzerland: lice!

Of course there was a lot of initial panic as I for sure didn’t want to fulfill the cliché of the “dirty dreadlock guy”. But then at the pharmacy I was told that ALL humans can get lice and that they don’t have anything to do with your hair.

Before we talk about the treatment I would like to share some information about lice with you: the head louse lives exclusively on human heads. It is impossible to get lice from your pets. The head louse likes warm and wet environments. Every few hours it needs fresh blood. A head louse which falls from your head dries out relatively fast and starves soon. That’s also why you don’t need to change your sheets. The manufacturers of anti-lice-products will of course tell you a different story.

Head lice live about one centimeter away from the scalp, preferable in the neck region and behind the ears. That’s why you will hardly find lice in the tips of your dreadlocks as they would die down there. Female lice lay about 3-5 eggs (nits) per day, after around one week new lice hatch. Whenever you find nits more than 1 cm away from your scalp, they are empty.

Lice are ONLY passed on through direct hair to hair contact (fighting, hugging, making love, etc.). But they can also be passed on when someone crochets your hair, e.g. when a louse crawls under a fingernail. Normally lice are NOT passed on through objects such as pillows. Lice normally also don’t want to leave their home head.

Treatment: Marc-Jacques Hard-Core-Chemical-Anti-Lice-Program

Normally lice treatment consists of combing the nits out of your hair. As this is not possible for people with dreadlocks you need to be slightly more creative! Just as a reminder, applying lice treatment once won’t do!

I went to the pharmacy and bought 3 different treatments:

Hedrin: an oily solution which adheres the spiracles (airways) of the lice

Prioderm and XXX: contain pesticides.

I used this treatment according to a 2-3-day rhythm for 2.5 weeks. It was necessary as I couldn’t comb the nits out of my hair and therefore had to apply the treatment until the last louse had hatched and died. It did take time and it did cost money but I got rid of the lice! But just for a short period of time as a person who was really close to me infected me again. We then had to redo the whole procedure, but this time we did it together!

So, if you are living with people who are also infected with lice, it is important to get rid of the problem together, otherwise you won’t get rid of these little beasts.

Additional information can be found on lausinfo.ch.

Why don’t we think that Backcombing is a good technique?

Backcombing is one of the dreadlock techniques we advise against. During backcombing one strand of hair is separated and teased upwards with a special back-combing comb. You convolute, comb, and roll the dread back and forth over your palm (Palm rolling) and then you convolute it once more. And so on. Some hairdressers additionally use perm-chemicals to make the hair even more scraggly. Often wax or similar substances are also added.

The problem is that the new backcombing dreadlocks are not compact enough to start off life well. The following matting process therefore turns into chaos, especially when water comes into play. Your dreadlocks may get weird curves, dents, and knobs, which will be really hard or even impossible to fix later on. Often such uncompact baby-dreads start matting at the roots and can lead to matted carpet like hair.

As the hair of the individual strands is simply combed backwards the amount of hair in the dreadlocks is also irregular: Backcombing Dreadlocks are often shorter but thicker.

I myself am a backcombing victim! For the first 1.5 years my dreadlocks were a plain catastrophe until my former girlfriend handed me a crochet hook. So: if it needs to be Backcombing, we recommend to use a crochet hook afterwards. But then you could also do it properly with the crochet hook in the first place.

What do you need wax for?I personally don’t use wax. Some dreadlock-creators want to get the dreadlock process started with palm rolling and wax. Sometimes it is also used to get rid of hair that sticks out. But this less efficient than crocheting it back in. But critics emphasis that wax does not really help during the matting process and can’t be washed out afterwards. Therefore, crocheting is for sure the better option.

Aromatic wax can also be used to give your hair a great scent. This for sure won’t hurt when going on a date.

Will dreadlocks get moldy in the rainforest?

Hair is a protein structure. And proteins are delicious! That’s not only what we as humans believe but also what fungi and bacteria believe. If you seriously have ever been to the rainforest you know that almost everything gets moldy there: the belt, the backpack, and even the toothbrush. This is due to the high humidity and warmth.

Back in the day I always used to think that I will have to cut my dreadlocks if I will be allowed to spend a prolonged time in the rainforest as otherwise they would for sure get moldy. Early in 2012 I had to accept the challenge: going to the rainforest during rainy season!

Highest law: your dreadlocks mustn’t be damp! And this is not an easy task! Especially during rainy season when humidity can be around 90% or even more and during a single day it can rain 10% of the rain that comes down in Zurich during a whole year. So I needed to come up with some good strategies.

  • Dreadlocks are washed only when the sun is shining! Otherwise they won’t dry for days due to the tropical humidity! This would not end well!
  • Always wear an (impregnated) hat when in the forest. This hat keeps the humidity away from the hair, protects against drops falling from the treetops, and provides a few minutes of protection when it starts to pour. Put a (good) poncho on as soon as possible during heavy rain. Follow these instructions and everything will be good.
  • The hat also helped me not to overheat as the neck stayed free.
  • When going to bed open up your dreadlocks and repeatedly use a cloth to dry the roots.

Will my hair get shorter when I get dreadlocks?

Normal hair grows, unless it is extremely curly, mainly lengthwise. But when you get dreadlocks, a certain amount of length is needed for the volume, the third dimension. When get new dreadlocks you are losing approximately 1/3 of your hair length! There is nothing you can do about it, that’s simply the way it is, unless you have really curly hair of course. In this case it may be possible that the dreadlocks may be even longer than the ringlets.

On and off we have customers who feel sorry for the loss of their hair length. But in the end you are also not wearing your “normal” hair anymore when you get dreadlocks, you will be wearing dreadlocks now. So you shouldn’t compare the length of your regular hair with the length of your dreadlocks. It is also useless to explicitly letting your hair grow to avoid getting too short hair. 1/3 is and always will be 1/3!

What kind of crochet hook should I use and where can I get it?

Crochet hooks can be bought at the needlework shop or Coop City. Or you get one at our shop. We recommend using a 0.75 crochet hook for repairs. Don’t use thicker hooks as they may destroy your dreadlocks. We personally use a 0.6 crochet hook, which is especially useful for more advanced users as you may puncture yourself a lot otherwise.

How to wash dreadlocks?

As with many other things regarding dreadlocks, there are also different opinions when it comes to washing your dreadlocks. – From washing a lot to washing sparsely. There is no “this is the way it needs to be done”, it is more about feeling your own dreadlocks and finding out what’s best for you.

Though it shall be mentioned that dreadlocks are not big fans of water. Water removes the matting, opens the tips, and increases the risk of your dreadlock roots matting together. But a lot of water is no problem whatsoever as long as you keep crocheting and as long as you are aware of your dreadlocks’ conditions

Whether you are using cord soap, herbal shampoos or normal body lotion as long as you wash your hair and your scalp in particular everything will be alright.

How do you wash your dreadlocks: turn the water on, put your head under the water, lots of soap (if available) and start scrubbing…that’s as easy as it gets.

Do I need to go bald when I don’t want me dreads anymore?

It’s a myth that you will need to go bald when you don’t want your dreadlocks anymore. It is an option, but you seriously don’t need to.

Combing your whole dreadlocks off is often not possible anymore after a couple of years as the individual hair is broken multiple times along its length. But there are other ways. You can grow your hair out: you simply stop crocheting and pay attention that the hair that grows back doesn’t mat anymore. This way normal hair grows back and after some time you can cut about 10 to 20 cm of the dreadlocks and comb off the rest.

This way you start a new hairstyle chapter with relatively long and normal hair. The thought to cut your dreadlocks hurts the first moment. But I know that for a lot of people this separation and change is also a sign of turning the page and beginning a new chapter of their life. I was told multiple times that cutting your dreadlocks is something wonderful.

Aren’t there any little animals living in your dreadlocks?

Of course, there are little animals living in the dreadlocks. But animals also live in normal, finely washed hair, e.g. mites at the hair roots. There is nothing you can do against. That’s a good answer whenever someone asks you. People always look disgusted after that.

Life does need moisture in general. And I do believe that dreadlocks are more on the dry side – besides of the roots. Because of the dreadlocks where moist all the time they would get moldy.

Are dreadlocks merely fashion nowadays? And is it Dreadlocks-Artesanal fault?

Sometimes I am asked why I am wearing dreadlocks. This is a question for which there is not simply an answer. There are different reasons why people choose to get dreadlocks (refer). Some do for religious reasons, others don’t. I am part of the latter group.

Now, I often tell those people that my dreadlocks look like roots and that this is a way to express my relationship with nature (Dreadlocks in Hindi = Jata = root, that’s what an Indian guy told me, I didn’t know that). I also mention that dreadlocks are a symbol of tolerance and a symbol for alternative thinking. And of course my vanity is also a reason why I wear dreadlocks and of course I wear dreadlocks because Dreadlocks-Artesanal is my/our project.

There are so many reasons you would like to mention why people wear dreadlocks. And most of the time you will come up with thoughts and philosophies over time. When I was little and di my dreadlocks, it was more a fashion statement than for any philosophical reason. You personally grow with your dreadlocks.

We are also sometimes asked if we don’t feel bad that we are constantly producing dreadlocks-heads just like machines 24/7. We are of course of the same opinion that certain people would be better off without dreadlocks. But still it is not our business to judge the decisions of others. You can be terribly wrong! But we are still pretty relaxed when it comes to that topic! Someone who shouldn’t have dreadlocks will cut them after half a year anyway. Those who are really meant to wear dreadlocks will continue to wear them until they are long and beautiful and really count as dreadlocks.

Back in the day dreadlocks were seen as a sign of rebellion. Nowadays dreadlocks are already working at the register at Migros, nurses wear dreadlocks, as well as business engineers. The more people wear the dreadlocks, the more they will be respected.

Tie and suit count as business attire. In a bank everyone is correctly dressed? Why? A tie makes you look trustworthy! Whenever someone wants to sell you a subscription, this person often will wear a nice suit so that you will trust him  and you won’t see where the catch is. I suggest that people with ties lie, cheat, fake, and rob more often than those with dreadlocks! That’s why I am desperately waiting for the moment when someone with dreadlocks will sit at the bank counter!

Someone said it perfectly: dreadlocks beautify the face of our earth and this is exactly what our earth needs right now!

How long should my hair be so that I can get dreadlocks?

You will need a certain hair length to get dreadlocks, at least 17 cm. If your hair is shorter than that it won’t have sufficient matting dynamics. When hair is too short, it hurts the finger joints to create dreadlocks and they may even pop open again.

There are also people with 5cm or 10cm long hair who already want to have dreadlocks. We always tell them that dreadlocks need time and patience. And both of them already come into play when growing your hair.

I cut my dreadlocks and now I regret it! What can I do now?

It’s one thing to cut your dreadlocks and it’s another thing to throw away your cut dreadlocks. If you already threw away your old dreadlocks, there is only one solution: you need to wait until the hair grows back.

But if you still have your dreadlocks, we can help you! Store your dreads in a cold and dry place. Let your hair grown until it is about 20 – 25 cm long and stop by. Then we can use your own hair to get you dreadlocks and use your old dreads for crocheting. This is a really elaborate process as it should be done with a lot of care!  But it is possible!

I personally have a two months’ freeze period when it comes to cutting my dreadlocks: from the day I decide to cut my dreadlocks, I have to wait two months. When I am still thinking that I am fed up with my dreadlocks after the two months, then I will cut them! Many people cut their dreads on a whim and regret it afterwards. This is why you need to consider: dreadlocks can be cut within 3 seconds. But it takes 3 years to get them back! So please think twice when you want to get your hair cut!

Can you extend dreadlocks with extensions?

Of course we can extend dreadlocks when you bring in hair or dreadlocks from friends. We don’t extend dreadlocks with purchased hair from developing countries and we also don’t work with plastic hair (so called “fake-dreads“).

Now and then we received such requests and we decline them. The reason is that we believe that dreadlocks take time and patience. You can’t buy pretty dreadlocks; they are made with time! People who are so impatient should also consider if getting dreadlocks is really the right decisions, according to us.

We don’t judge anyone who wants to get his or her hair artificially extended. Everyone is free to do whatever pleases him or her. But we decided to only create natural dreadlocks and that’s why we don’t offer extensions.

Are dreadlocks a lot of work?

If dreadlocks are a lot of work depends on several factors. I personally don’t have a lot of work with my 9-year-old dreadlocks anymore. Besides the fact that I re-crochet every 3 months. There are several factors. It was more work back in the day when I looked in the mirror every morning and tried to fix my hair wit jelly like gel. Furthermore, I do believe that people with normal and long hair have more work than I do with my hair.

Especially in the early dreadlocks stages it is important to constantly re-crochet. Even when we crochet your baby-dreads pretty compact, your dreadlocks will still need some love with the crochet hook during puberty. After that you simply need to fix the tips and roots. People with curly hair tend to have less work than people with fine hair. In the end daily shampooing is also more work.

When you do not want to/cannot invest so much time in your dreadlocks, we are also more than happy when you swing by for a crochet hook session.

What are the little rubber bands in the dreadlocks used for?

We occasionally used scrunchies to separate your hair stands. But we also removed them before we started crocheting. If you leave the little rubber bands in the dreadlocks they will dissolve over time and literally melt into the hair. They are almost impossible to remove then. You don’t need the rubber bands; you can do everything with the crochet hook.

Should I get my dreadlocks at the Afroshop or at the Coiffeur? (London school for dreadlocks)

Afroshops: The technique which is used there is suitable for African hair but less suitable for everyone else. Too much wax is used. We have also seen customers with waxed hair strands that had nothing to do with dreadlocks. Or that the dreadlocks weren’t compact enough, opened up again and/or started matting into weird forms.

Coiffeurs are worse. In theory they learn how to create dreadlocks during their training. With a lot of perm water, Gel, and back coming comes you get something which does not deserve the name dreadlocks at all. I am a victim myself! As coiffeurs themselves don’t know how to create and care for dreadlocks they are not able to give you any advice but send you back to the world with something backcombed on your head. We have also heard of hairdressers who fly to London for a lot of money and a few days and get a “dreadlocks diploma” at the “School of Dreadlocks“. But owning a “Dreadlocks Diploma“ doesn’t mean that you know how to make good looking dreadlocks after all.

If you want dreadlocks, go to someone who really knows a lot about dreadlocks and doesn’t simply offer them as an additional service besides combing, washing, and braiding.

Can my friends create my dreadlocks?

It’s not too difficult to make dreadlocks. However, it takes a certain amount of knowledge and experience to create nice and even dreadlocks. So yes, your friends can create your dreadlocks if you are into experimenting. But if you are not, please contact someone with experience.

Natural Dreadlocks vs. Dreadlocks Artesanales

Occasionally you meet dreadlocks wearer who have “natural dreadlocks“. Natural means that they don’t care for their dreadlocks at all, besides maybe occasionally separating the dreadlocks so that they don’t mat at the root.

These dreadlocks are all different, with curves and knobs and some loose hair and some remind you of a bird’s nest. Certain people like that and you should respect that as natural dreadlocks are often part of a philosophy. – A philosophy that believes that dreadlocks are a natural product which should not be worked on with chemistry or iron (crochet hook). I was also involved in discussions already where people said that it wasn’t good that I created dreadlocks as they need to form on their own. Personally I do believe that at the end of the day everyone needs to know for him- and herself how he or she wants to get the dreadlocks. I think it is unsuitable to force your ideology and dreadlocks technique on someone else. Tolerance is something that goes hand in hand with dreadlocks. However I have also seen such ”natural dreader“ who are missing just this tolerance.

Dreadlocks for kids?

Of course kids (< 13 years) look extremely adorable with dreadlocks! However, in our experience

Getting dreadlocks is almost always a torture for children! It seems that they are even more sensitive than adults. Sometimes it is also seems, that it is more the mother’s or the father’s wish that the child gets dreadlocks and not so much the child’s own wish. You also should be aware that children are not capable to care for their dreadlocks on their own and to crochet them. Therefore, they will also need their parents’ help.

In general, we are not against it, however we advise against it.

Can people with bleached hair also get dreadlocks?

In a nutshell: bleached hair is extremely rough and therefore perfectly suitable for dreadlocks.